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Why Providers Switch RPM Vendors (and How to Know if You Should)

Jerry Barsz | 05 July 2022
7 minute read

Remote patient monitoring has evolved significantly since CMS first introduced the reimbursement codes in 2019. Patient awareness and interest in remote monitoring is growing. Clinical research has continued to demonstrate the effectiveness of RPM in improving outcomes for multiple conditions, including hypertension, diabetes, and heart failure. Congress has continued to invest in telehealth, expanding remote monitoring with the addition of remote therapeutic monitoring.

Yet, despite all this good news, many practices who understand the value of RPM are still struggling to make it work. They identified a significant number of patients that could benefit from RPM, but devices are sitting unused on shelfs. Many practices didn’t fully understand the staff time required for remote monitoring. Others lacked support from their RPM vendor to get the program launched successfully. And some find it difficult to get patients to engage and take their readings.

If your RPM program isn’t quite living up to your expectations, it may be time to reevaluate your RPM partner. RPM partners are no longer just about selecting the right software — it’s about a full solution of services that meet your needs now and in the future. We’ve identified three challenges that have led practices to start searching for a new remote patient monitoring solution as well as questions to ask potential new vendors.

A Plan for Staffing

The most common challenge we see among practices struggling to maintain and grow their RPM programs is staffing. Most practices don’t have clinical staff with spare free time to invest in RPM. And many RPM vendors fail to adequately explain just how much staff is needed for both RPM onboarding and ongoing monitoring.

This is exactly why we always start with a success plan (before you sign a contract). The success plan outlines the roles, responsibilities, and time commitments of your staff who will make up your internal RPM team. It also covers your goals and guidance on how to measure progress against them.

Remote patient monitoring software must be intuitive, easy to learn, and simple to use with minimal instruction so your team isn’t wasting time “figuring it out.” Many RPM vendors will offer software training, but software training is really just the starting point. A great RPM partner will teach your team how to optimize every part of the RPM journey including patient identification, consent, enrollment, monitoring, billing, support, etc.

And if you don’t have enough resources to fulfill those functions, your RPM partner needs to provide a customized solution for your team. That could include creating a hiring plan for new staff or conducting the onboarding or monitoring with outsourced RPM services.

Clinical Expertise

A great monitoring solution will use licensed nurses that have the expertise to assess patients with confidence and competence, which minimizes false escalations. But, they will collaborate with your team on treatment plans and escalation policies, so they feel like part of your own staff.

Likewise, outsourced remote onboarding can reduce the burden on your staff by managing all the logistics of onboarding, including effective onboarding appointments.

Questions to Ask When Evaluating Your RPM Vendor

  1. How much staff do I need for RPM now and in the future?
  2. How much time is my staff spending using the software? Is it easy and intuitive?
  3. How effective and comprehensive has our staff training been?
  4. Do you offer an outsourced monitoring service?
  5. What are the credentials of your outsourced staff?
  6. How does your monitoring team create treatment plans and escalation policies?
  7. How does your monitoring staff communicate with our team and maintain our approach to treating patients?
  8. Do you offer remote onboarding services?

Patient Engagement

Low patient adherence is the second-most common reason why RPM programs are unsuccessful. Beyond having enough staff to regularly communicate with patients, there are several other factors that impact patient engagement.

  1. Devices: Devices need to be easy to use from the perspective of your patient population. While Bluetooth apps may work for some patients, seniors often prefer cellular devices. Cellular devices are as simple to use as non-connected devices, so they will already be familiar to many patients. With a cellular blood pressure cuff, you press one button to take your reading and automatically transmit the data. With a cellular weight scale, you simply step on and step off — that’s it. Cellular devices also reduce potential financial barriers as patients do not need a smartphone, computer, or internet connection. A strong RPM partner should offer both cellular and Bluetooth options to meet the needs of your patient population.
  2. Communication and reminders: To make it easier for your clinical staff to engage with patients, the best RPM software has built-in communication tools that allow them to text, call, and video chat with patients in one-click. The software should also have automated reminders about readings that can be configured to each patient’s schedule. This ensures the reminders are welcome and helpful, not annoying and intrusive.
  3. Effective onboarding: The onboarding appointment is a critical time to educate your patients about the importance of their participation and set expectations for their engagement. Your RPM partner should be supporting your team with an Onboarding Event that can not only jump start your program, but also teach your team how to conduct effective onboarding. Your RPM partner should also provide coaching on how to talk to patients about RPM and help you create onboarding processes that work for your practice.

Questions to Ask When Evaluating Your RPM Vendor

  1. How many patients are taking the required 16 days of readings per month?
  2. Does our staff find it easy to engage with patients in the software?
  3. Are we meeting our patient retention goals (and did our RPM vendor help us set them before we started)?
  4. Does our RPM vendor offer both cellular and Bluetooth devices?
  5. How often are patients reporting issues with their devices or connected technology?
  6. How does our RPM vendor support the patient onboarding process?
  7. Overall, are our patients satisfied with RPM? Has it strengthened our provider-patient relationship?
  8. Can I do in-person onboarding myself and remote onboarding simultaneously?
  9. If I’m using remote onboarding, how does my partner ensure remote onboarding appointments are as effective as in-person?

Client Success and Supporting Services

A strong RPM partner supports you and your patients at every step of their journey. Most companies offer customer service — reactively responding to questions and issues. But, does your RPM partner provide true client success? Are they regularly sharing data and best practices before problems arise? Are you having ongoing conversations about your goals and how to reach them?

A strong client success team starts with a success plan, has dedicated implementation experts to help you launch effectively, and provides regular business reviews. They understand that RPM is just one of many services that you offer. And it may not always be your number one priority.

As your RPM program grows, you may need more support or different workflows. Your RPM partner should have a flexible solution that can adapt when your needs change. This ensures you can add services as you need them while controlling which parts of the RPM process you manage versus outsource.

Supporting services that a strong RPM solution should offer (but not require that you use) include:

Questions to Ask When Evaluating Your RPM Vendor

  1. Is our RPM vendor proactively helping us grow and meet our goals?
  2. Do we even have established RPM goals?
  3. How often do we evaluate data on key metrics, such as patient growth, patient adherence rates, and patient engagement?Can we easily access that data?
  4. Did our RPM vendor help us create effective onboarding processes? Are they still working today?
  5. Does our RPM vendor offer other services that we may need now or in the future?
  6. Do they truly understand our needs and pain points to help us create a strong RPM program?

Is it Time to Reevaluate your RPM Program?

Remote patient monitoring can seem complex, but it doesn’t have to be. A great RPM partner can make monitoring easy, safe, effective, and profitable.

If your RPM program is struggling to grow or not living up to your expectations, set up a free consultation with one of RPM experts. We can seamlessly transition your existing RPM patients to our platform and design a plan for success for the rest of your patient population.